For example, when someone is being told that they're being a prick, they might trot out the old, "I'm just saying it like it is. You all can't handle this real talk!", as if that excuses their bad behaviour. What is a word for such lines; lame clichéd defenses of negative aspects of something or someone?

  • I don't really understand your context. The idiom is tell it like it is, (not say), but are you asking about situations where a person defends himself by saying he's "only being honest, telling the truth" when in fact he's lying? Or do you mean a situation where what the person is saying really is true? (But other people don't wish to hear his particular truth, because it's inconvenient, embarrassing, or whatever.) In that latter case, perhaps he's insensitive. – FumbleFingers Jun 9 '15 at 16:54
  • Ah, sorry no that doesn't answer it. Let me clarify. The word I'm looking for is a noun, a type of statement. A statement that is trotted out as a standard defence against an attack on someone's character. But this statement isn't really a legitimate justification of whatever actions are causing said person's character to be called into question. – Jishnu Jairaj Jun 9 '15 at 17:00
  • @JishnuJairaj: Your post seems to assume that there is such a word. Is that the case? Have you heard/read this word being used? Or are you trying to find out if such a word exists? (In which case, an edit is in order.) – Tushar Raj Jun 9 '15 at 17:28
  • @Jishnu, you haven't answered my question. In what circumstances do you consider that claiming to be telling the truth is not a "legitimate justification"? – FumbleFingers Jun 9 '15 at 17:35
  • Trying to find out if such a word exists. What do I need to edit? – Jishnu Jairaj Jun 9 '15 at 17:35

A platitude is a trite or cliche saying, but it does not typically have the connotation that it is uttered to excuse an inconsistent, illogical, or outdated position as "true but politically incorrect," which is I think what you're hearing.

I like using the phrase "the last refuge" to describe a position that someone holds by virtue of their inability to understand anything else. It's seen a couple different uses, and you can adapt it to fit your needs.

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. -Samuel Johnson

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. -Isaac Asimov

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginitive. -Oscar Wilde

^All the above quotations are from the internet, and therefore likely actually uttered by Michael Scott, and not the person referenced.

Nevertheless, I feel like you could adapt your own bon mot to suit your needs. Perhaps,

Political incorrectness is the last refuge of the outdated.


Such excuses are the last refuge of the spiteful.

Or whatever.

  • Thank you for this, this is quite helpful. I guess, ultimately, what I'm looking for is a word that describes a clichéd and pathetic/flimsy excuse for one's bad behaviour or actions. – Jishnu Jairaj Jun 9 '15 at 18:22



Attempt to explain or justify (one’s own or another’s behavior or attitude) with logical, plausible reasons, even if these are not true or appropriate: she couldn’t rationalize her urge to return to the cottage



Rationalization (making excuses)

In psychology and logic, rationalization or rationalisation (also known as making excuses) is a defense mechanism in which controversial behaviors or feelings are justified and explained in a seemingly rational or logical manner to avoid the true explanation, and are made consciously tolerable – or even admirable and superior – by plausible means. It is also an informal fallacy of reasoning. Rationalisation happens in two steps:

  1. A decision, action, judgement is made for a given reason, or no (known) reason at all (in cases for instance of dogmatic judgement or normal behaviour).
  2. A rationalisation is performed, constructing a seemingly good or logical reason, as an attempt to justify the act after the fact (for oneself or others).

Rationalization encourages irrational or unacceptable behavior, motives, or feelings and often involves ad hoc hypothesizing. This process ranges from fully conscious (e.g. to present an external defense against ridicule from others) to mostly unconscious (e.g. to create a block against internal feelings of guilt). People rationalize for various reasons — sometimes when we think we know ourselves better than we do. Rationalization may differentiate the original deterministic explanation of the behavior or feeling in question.

  • Ah yes, so a popular statement used to rationalize bad behaviour and protect oneself from external ridicule. Is there a word for something like that? I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't. Just curious to know whether there is. – Jishnu Jairaj Jun 9 '15 at 18:35
  • @JishnuJairaj - Some rationalizations are very common, though I don't know a specific term for them, I'd say "common rationalizations" see community.aiim.org/blogs/steve-weissman/2012/07/18/… – amdn Jun 9 '15 at 18:45

Perhaps something like a quip? The dictionary definition does not quite give the connotation I associate with it.

  • I think "quip" is rather the opposite of what OP is looking for. – as4s4hetic Aug 18 '17 at 9:29

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